(HealthDay)—The use of telemedicine for substance use disorder (tele-SUD) is relatively low in a commercially insured population, according to a study published in the December issue of Health Affairs.

Haiden A. Huskamp, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues describe how tele-SUD is being used and identify characteristics of tele-SUD users using claims data from 2010 to 2017. They note several key regulatory and reimbursement barriers to greater use of tele-SUD and note that both Congress and the states are considering or have passed legislation to address these barriers.

The researchers found that despite a rapid increase during the study period (from 0.62 to 3.05 visits per 1,000 people), the overall rates of tele-SUD were low, especially relative to the growth in telemental health. Tele-SUD was mainly used to complement in-person care; those with relatively severe SUD used tele-SUD disproportionately.

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